By Amanda Light
Social media provides an interactive platform to hear about events, share information and connect with friends. The ease it allows people to share their unsolicited thoughts has given everyone a platform. It’s a public record that captures every passively liked meme, tagged photo and personal post.
It is easier than ever to know intimate details about the people we share the vaguest connection to. The generation that was raised in the age of “don’t talk to strangers” now basically holds a megaphone to the sky.
We joke about the comments section and anonymous trolling on YouTube or other online spaces, but Facebook specifically calls these people your friends.
That doesn’t stop the comments section from getting messy.
In the wake of the Parkland School shooting, and more specifically in regards to President Donald Trump’s statements about arming teachers, a female grade school teacher posted about wanting to keep her school a safe space for kids to learn.
The comment section was active during the entire weekend with back and forth partisan arguments as she silently watched notifications clog up her screen. So she deleted the post entirely.
The way we argue online isn’t how we approach it in person. Tone and intent are vague online, the same way a joke doesn’t illicit the same reaction if read.
In person, we try to persuade people near us to share our values. Even amid frustration, we know we are speaking to a person and respect some form of manners.
However, Facebook gives us enough familiarity to talk frankly with people, while providing enough distance to not care that there’s a person as real as you on the other side of the screen.
The Facebook comments section is more like a crowd surrounding a fight, put on more for show than to actually change minds.
The content of the post doesn’t matter. The online turf war is often determined by the poster’s unequivocal right to post however they please because it’s their page.
Disagreement isn’t an attack of an idea — it’s an attack of the person’s identity. So, it reinforces the ideas you disagree with even more.
For everyone else, it creates audience fatigue, and the silent watchers won’t post the next time they have an opinion.
So please, argue if you must, but don’t make public discourse a spectator sport.